23
Apr
2017

One of the scents that is capable of immediately and forcefully reminding me of childhood is that of Honeysuckle.  Every time, I catch a whiff of the stuff, I am transported to a patch of scrubby grass and a grown up ditch, near the clotheslines that stood behind the apartments where my family lived in Oxford, Mississippi. We weren’t there very long, only two years, while my dad finished his doctorate.  Many of my childhood glimpses and snippets come from this place – I was between four and six years, then.  I remember, after the honeysuckle waned, the blackberries coming forth in full force.  Mom would send me, and whomever else was hanging about, into the overgrown vacant lots back there to hunt the berries.  I distinctly remember her always giving us a pail of water, with sugar melting in it, to wash the berries with.  Rarely did many actually make it home in those containers.

We have honeysuckle up here in North Alabama.  Only, it’s not quite as much and not quite as fragrant as it was in my memories.  But, you know how memories are, we tend to remember the good things as very, very good.  So, maybe honeysuckle doesn’t smell quite the same in reality.

We went down to Auburn this weekend to see some baseball and catch The Tempest at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (very good – go).  In the evening, after the game on Friday, we were strolling across campus to my daughter’s dorm when the scents hit me like a ton of bricks. It’s warmer down in Auburn, and the honeysuckle was in full bloom. The heady scent was just like I remembered it.  And to add to it, there were quite a few tea olive bushes around (at least I think it is what they are called, or something similar).  They have an extremely sweet perfume.  When I first encountered them in New Orleans, I always thought someone nearby had overdosed on some overpowering Giorgio, but eventually, I figured out it was the bushes.

I love that smell.  I miss it.  It always makes me feel happy.  I just stood there in the cool evening breeze, letting it waft over me and carry me back to my Freshman year on Tulane’s campus.  I almost cried.  I cannot believe my youngest is in college. Where did the time go?  It was just yesterday, I was tromping through briers, cutting up my shins and knees, picking blackberries.